Sunday, September 26, 2010

The concept of money

How much is enough? At what point does a person say they have enough money?

More and more, those living in developed nations are beginning to realise that money and the consumer lifestyle just isn’t doing it for them anymore. A kind of despair has taken over the faithful of the pursuit of wealth. Simply put, the pursuit of wealth doesn’t make them a lot happier.

As we watch the businessmen die from stress, stroke, heart disease and we wonder how they sleep at night with their consciences, followed by the celebrities dying from drug abuse, alcohol intake, psychosis as the hip hop artists ironically sing of the tragedy in their hoods – some of us begin to wonder if being ultra-rich is all it’s cut out to be.

We need to get money right. We need to know it’s place and put it there. Probably this arena needs a lot more thought and cleaning up, but here’s where I got to so far.

Money speaks to us on two levels; needs and wants.

The first one is our necessities. We need a certain amount of money to ensure that we are living healthily. This is an important aspect and much of the world is still trying to reach this level. However, many people have reached this level and are still striving for money. This is action is bred due to an insecurity concerning money brought over from the time where we had to strive to achieve that actual level of survival. This constant fear that we will lose that money and return to instability can be very hurtful to a person (just as any constant anxiety or fear can be).

Just like saving money is a good practice to teach our kids, we should also teach our kids not to fear it. Cultivating an understanding of what is enough will increase our efficiency of earning vs living. The second system that needs to be in place is in our policies and government, where if we can reduce the cost and ensure the availability of needs for everyone – the limit for essential wealth is reduced.

The second level is that of our wants. Sometimes, instead of being driven by a fear of lack of money, we can instead be driven by an overload of money. Like many things, too much or too little of a medium can be unhealthy. Many people believe that money can buy them everything. While it can buy them luxuries, it is rare that luxuries bring happiness. The centres of happiness and fulfilment are lit by (as neuroscientists are beginning to discover)from many other activities such as deserved treats (chocolate :D), adorable things, connecting with others (conversation, shared activities, similar values, similar plights and goals, sex (the kind that betters a relationship)), a sense of belonging, a sense of achievements, a sense of helping, a sense of appreciation and a sense of learning and growth. Many of these do not require too much money at all. As portrayed on the graph in the lecture by Nic Marks, some of the happiest places are not the richest. And the richest places stagnate at a certain point of happiness, regardless of wealth.

Money is one of those things we really need to get a grasp of. I suggest that all governments and people should strive to figure out a healthy idea of money and teach it to our children and introduce that concept in our lives that we no longer live in fear and in addiction to its potency.


  1. I think Tim (or someone else, i cant remember) mention that money (like other objects) is a means to an end. Usually we identify what we want it to do for us but it still has its limitations. Unless money is a side-issue that enables us to survive i think we can properly enjoy our job and interaction with ppl as it is rather than just a thing we have to grit out teeth to doing just to get a monthly wage.

  2. :) this is true. I decided to post specifically regarding money because it is our most popular unit of measure of 'success'.

    But what we truly want (and money is but a large vein feeding into) is control. And that I will post about next.